30 years. Just thought I would try to see what all the fuss is about with records. Long time Aphile and well versed in all but analog. Love my CD's, but had to try.
Ok, I was given a B&O Beogram RX table with B&O MMC3 cartridge. I purchased a very inexpensive Applied Audio Technology phono preamp for $50 and am using a nice power supply on it. The ART phono preamp is said to be pretty good for cheap.
I was given 5 lp's that I am now listening to. Sounds decent, but not as good as my CD front end. Not sure if I need a better table, cart or phono preamp. Not sure which would impact the sound more and give me a better taste of analog. Please help me!
Should I look at a better table or phono preamp? I don't want to spend that much , but want to be sure I am not missing something special. I would spend $150 or so.
What model table or phono preamp would give me a better sense of good analog?
Based on what I am now hearing I don't think I would bother with analog. My CD front end simply sounds much better.
Bill, in all seriousness, don't invest more money at this point. You would be far better served by finding someone who has a decent vinyl setup and listening to that first. I'm a serious vinylholic, so this is no slam on vinyl. It's just that listening to someone else's rig will give you a better clue about whether this is something you want to spend time and money pursuing.
Understand. $1500 in CD player, but sounds better then many $4000 players.
I have heard some say a good TT and decent phono will sound better then most CD players. The ART is really pretty good according to some who own it and have compared it to other phono stages costing up tp $500.
I don't expect it to sound better then my CD player, I was hoping for some of the magic! I taste if you will. This taste could propel me to spend more time and $$ on upgrades in the future.
LP's can be had so cheap that I thought LP's could be a neat secondary music source.
I just put on a String LP that does sound really good. Perhaps the table and pre need to warm up.
It seems ridiculous that you would even have high expectations with what you are running, maybe a taste of what it's all about. Fifty dollars on a phono pre, come on. How do you even know the table and cart you have are set up right and working right with the phono pre? There are A LOT of variables that go into getting vinyl to sound great. Seems like you might be trying to convince yourself it's not worth the trouble??? It's a well known fact that good vinyl beats digital every time, but do you want to go to the expense and trouble is the question? If you want to find out for yourself I'd say you are going to have to be willing to do more than spend 150 dollars.
I've gone down a similar journey over the past couple of years, and I can clearly see analog becoming a deep, deep money pit to get to where it sounds as it should.
My rig already costs $4k+ with table/cart, phono, cabling, set-up tools, cleaning supplies, etc., and it's very good...sometimes better than CDs, but it has a long way to go before it sounds as it should, IMO.
Never say never, but I'd like to stop here with the vinyl rig. I simply don't have the LPs to warrant the expense, and inexpensive vinyl has proven to be worth the money spent...i.e., not very much. Lots of surface noise/damage to the gooves. I'd say maybe 20% of the used vinyl I have purchased is of high enough quality to replace CD (or SACD, or DVD-A).
I understand your point and hear you saying I must spend big $$ to make records sound as good as my current CD front end.
I have learned one thing over the years I have enjoyed gear and music. One can spend very little money on a piece of gear and it can sound wonderful. My current reference system is proof of that. Yes, a $50 phono preamp can sound as good as highly reviewed $500 units. The company that makes this $50 phono preamp makes a $200 amp that has bested many amps costing up to $2000. I know this first hand. ART is a Pro/recording studio gear company. They make great sounding gear for a song and most Aphiles are simply to closed minded to try it.
I listened more last night and one Sting LP sounded very good indeed. I think the table and pre needed to warm -up and more burn in is needed in the $50 preamp. I also realize that the sound is greatly impacted by the quality of the LP recording. I was amazed at the sound of the Sting LP with my free turntable and $50 phono preamp. I did have a taste of something special for 45 minutes last night.
I may just keep the few great sounding LP's I can find for cheap and have fun with my $50 set -up!
I did read the table and pre set up directions and everying is set up properly and working well.
Well if it analog beats digital every time I have not heard it. I have listened to some faily expensive rigs 10K+ and while it is very good; it would not be worth the hassle for me. A friend of mine has a very nice rig and I have listened to his on a couple of occasions; I am not running out to buy a TT. But thats me and everyone likes what they like there is good and bad with all formats.
For $150 buy a new cartridge. That will have the biggest impact. Unless there is something wrong with the table or the pre you are not going to have much impact on those for the money. Not knowing the age of the cartridge or how many hours are on it the money is best spent there. They do wear out and are easily damaged so assume it is shot.
Now to the bigger question. It definitely is worth pursuing if you are eventually willing to invest more money. You are not going to get by on that budget if you want to stay in this for the long haul. You will need $150 or more to buy the supplies needed to clean the bargain records you want to buy.
There is something inherently "right" about analog that CDs can't do. I believe higher resolution digital can. Not to be dismissive but statements like "I heard vinyl in my buddies high end system and wasn't impressed" don't carry much weight because with all the variables we must assume something wasn't right about his set up. Too many of us have compared very high end CD to middle of the road vinyl and found the vinyl better in many ways, and the most important ways. If you want to listen to everything a high-end system can impress you with buy a CD player. If you want to listen to music and tap your toes buy a turntable.
Amen Rushton. My goodness this is my final post in Agon. Please read what I have said. I don't expect my minimal investment in analog to sound better or as good as my digital front end. I did not say that. I said I wanted some of the analog magic - and taste of it.
Some of you need to read and try to understand before making out of context remarks.
In terms of investment please consider the following.The table I was given is worth $100 or so. It sold for $300 new some 20 years ago. The cartridge costs $250 new right now. I am using a power supply on the phono preamp that costs $150. The phono pre costs $50. Add it up and it is a decent amount of money.
I am astounded by some of the responses. I thank those that made some good points.
Oh come on, don't go away mad. You must admit what you asked for may be just a little bit silly.
"I don't want to spend that much , but want to be sure I am not missing something special. I would spend $150 or so."
The point of your critics was they don't believe you can find what it is that is "special", assuming there is something, for that kind of money. Perhaps the responses were harsher than they should have been but their underlying reasons were well founded. On the surface it seems very simple but playing a record requires an extremely complex electro-mechanical system so getting to that special place probably isn't going to happen on your budget. Then again, maybe it will. I would get a cartridge and see.
In any case enjoy the journey. I can't remember who said it but it is something like "The beauty is in the walking. We are betrayed by destinations."
You're right. I have no idea if the cartridge is sounding its best or if it has lost significant fidelity.
After playing that one Sting LP I have heard enough to know that analog is indeed special. It sounded pretty darn good on a 20 year old table and cartridge. Yes, my CD player still beats it, but the gap is more of what I expected.
Still missing some dynamics and yes surface noise is an issue on the LP's I have.
It is fun to play records however and I am planning on doing some slight mods to my phono preamp and upgrading or replacing the cartridge.
Grannyring, I'm right in the middle of what seems a long, long, road to getting my analog to sound the way I want. Tvad's experience mirrors mine, the only difference is, I have around 2,000 lps so I'm very motivated to get my vinyl setup right.
I think you could get a much better taste of what analog is about with a VPI Scout, Thorens TD160 or something similar. I believe you will have to spend at least 1k to get that taste.
Once you've gotten that taste, you may be in for a very long trail down a dark winding road. At this point, I would call the trail to analog bliss a trip through the wilderness. There are so many choices in analog, and making the right choice is damn difficult.
Perhaps my expectations are too great for analog, but I don't find it to be a plug and play instant bliss exercise. Cd players are plug and play, this is damn hard work! Be prepared for a long and difficult trip if you get bitten by the analog bug!
Sns has it right - analog IS a long hard road, especially if you've spent the last 15-20 years in the digital wilderness. Most folks ask what the path to analog nirvana is and the simple answer is there isn't one: however, I do believe one must spend in the $400-600 range to get an idea of what is possible from analog - a used Rega P[lanar]3 and a decent MM cart, properly set up will get you 80+% of the way there. Not to be cynical, but there's a reason why, when CDs first appeared, they (mostly) blew Joe Consumer's turntable into the weeds - cheap resonant plastic, poorly made with an extremely mediocre motor and needle is nobody's friend; at the same time, pre-recorded cassettes were outselling vinyl by a large margin (chew on that for a while...) mostly due to convenience, longevity and inferior LP playback equipment (sorry Bill, just like that nasty B&O you're hoping for something from). I certainly don't blame you for trying, but I do complain that you bemoan the fact that the POS isn't as good as your cd player...there is after all a reason why it was only $50. But, if you only have 5 records, why bother to spend the money? Hardware after all is merely a vehicle for the software at hand - I have 5000 LPs and 200 CDs, so it's pretty easy to choose where to put the money.
It is no coincidence that society has embraced the Ipod as well - cheap, efficient and functional - all the things analog isn't. Analog will forever remain a niche market as long as there is no demand (en mass) for anything better . With the advancements in video we see today, from hardware (plasma, LCD) to the software (Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, HDTV, etc, etc), it stuns me there hasn't been a commesurate demand for higher fidelity in the aural realm. The problem is, nobody gives a damn as sound (or noise, as I prefer) has become ubiquitous, and hence denigrated. Why is it that every public environment one wanders into today is "contaminated" with sound/noise?? One could argue that people are so conditioned by it, that without it the silence would be deafening to them (thus the need to carry a personal noisemaking doo-doo in the form of a cell phone/blackberry/blahblahblah). I could ramble on about this ad nauseum. Please enjoy the tunes regardless of your format - if it works for you, so be it. Cheers,
Grannyring you asked a question and it was answered.In fact the replies came from very knowledgeable posters.If the responses were not what you wanted to hear please dont feel that you dont belong.No one put you down,actually from what I read they helped a great deal.You can always find someone stating that a $50 stage is better then some $500 stages.This alone does not make it so.In fact some of the posters believe Digital surpass' Analog and I have know idea as to how anyone can think that. Have fun with your system
Ejlif, you wrote, and I understand it's just your opinion, but it's stated as a rather large declarative, a generalization and perhaps even value judgement that (imho) has lost its edge, or point, or even relevance (especially if you begin to consider all of the implications)...
>>It's a well known fact that good vinyl beats digital every time<<
imho, that "fact" is changing, the "fact" of the matter is rapidly changing...
Just as Rushton made a reasonable and practical suggestion to Grannyring at the outset of this thread, I would like to make a similar suggestion:
I suggest that you go listen to music you are very familiar with on vinyl but on the system of someone who has taken reasonable care in his/her setup of a
a USB asynch DAC, such as Ultra Fi's iRoc, connected to the MacMini with a quality USB cable, such as a Ridge Street Audio Poeima!!! or a Synergistic Research Tesla,
which is connected to quality single ended ICs to the preamp...
someone who has carefully ripped their CDs into lossless format...
someone who has correctly and carefully allowed proper breakin on all of the above...
and I suggest that you might very easily have serious second thoughts about your opinion...
>>It's a well known fact that good vinyl beats digital every time<<
Why not try it and report back...?
Nothing ventured... nothing gained...
otherwise, it's just the same-old same-old and don't bother me with the possibility of having, really having, more of what I really like...
Bill, I think we've had a couple sales transactions(that is if you live in MN.)if I am thinking right, you are more than welcome to stop over and give a listen to my system. Mine is middle of the road, but it should give you a feel for whether or not vinyl is something that you want to pursue. Send me an e-mail, if you have an interest, I live in So. Mpls just north of the Mall of America. Jeff
Well I have almost that same system you are describing (less the Synergistic USB cord which I want to try) sitting on the rack right next to my turntable. YOu know what, it sounds awesome. I love it, I play it more than my turntable. I love itunes and the convenience it affords. If I could only have one or the other it would be my itunes no doubt about it.
But, my vinyl rig sound A LOT better, no doubt about it. I have a fairly expensive vinyl rig, but I used to have a rig I bought for 1000.00 used on Audiogon, table cart and arm. That sounded better than any digital I had owned prior including Wadia, Ayre, and Audio Aero players costing upwards of 10K.
I am facing a pound for pound test of my iRoc against my Cary 303/300 here real soon. And I'll be testing the Synergistic USB against the Ridge Street Audio Poeima!!! as well.
The truth is *in there*.
And I agree that if money and time & the near fetish-like quality of vinyl care and playback are of no consequence in the equation, I prefer the qualities of vinyl.
But having said that, my money and my time (especially the ritualistic aspects of vinyl care and playback... which I'd be the first to agree are nearly a life-style... not something to find fault with or to criticize) do matter.
And part of my preference (I must admit) is sheer fun. I like the ability to explore new music and do so in a reasonably quick, HQ (and inexpensive) manner (e.g. Rhapsody) that the MacMini and the iRoc offer. I am very curious, very interested in many different genres of music, and this allows me to get *there* in a HQ manner.
Grannyring, Palasr gives some good advice. Your turntable is not up to snuff. I would also suggest that when you get a proper one, that you compare how the music makes you feel. Good analog is very relaxing. Digital has almost a "did you hear that" quality. It's like you admire its sound quality without actually warming up to it.
I agree with Rushton, listen to a good setup. Then check the cart under a microscope and make sure its good. The canilever suspension can go on old B&O carts so maybe a Soundsmith rebuild or replacement is in order. Definitely a phono pre upgrade. Find a dealer that loans so you can try before you buy.